|Telus on the Prowl
Merger needed, says CEO
The Edmonton Sun, 5/01/98
CALGARY - Telus Corp. will seek a partner as quickly as possible to settle uncertainty in the markets after the breakdown of talks with AT&T Canada Long Distance Inc., the company's president and CEO said yesterday.
Following the Edmonton-based company's annual meeting in Calgary, George Petty said he would like to see a deal struck within a year, but won't rush to the altar for the sake of holding a marriage certificate.
"We will do a deal and announce it when we see a good deal."
At the moment, the company is not in any "intensive discussions" to expand its long-distance network outside of Alberta, but, "I know in my heart Telus needs a partner," Petty said.
Telus has talks with a number of potential partners, including GTE Corp., which has a controlling interest in BC Telecom Inc.
Analysts have speculated Telus will look west to BC Tel for a union or that BCE Inc., which owns Bell Canada, will come knocking on Telus's door.
Telus's board of directors will be bound to entertain any offers presented to them, Petty said.
And it's unlikely Telus will resume talks with AT&T, Petty said. Negotiations broke down because of "major issues", but he would not elaborate on whether that meant control.
Telus is also in the midst of reviewing its position in the Stentor alliance of phone carriers.
"We've all been exploring alternatives inside and outside the alliance. Stentor needs to change in order to compete," he said.
Petty told shareholders the Edmonton-based telephone company is holding or increasing market share in all its divisions and will be a very different company within a year.
Telus shares closed yesterday up $1.45 at $38.55. Its first-quarter net income from continuing operations was $63.7 million, up 55% from a year ago.